Think of this as Volume 11, Number 35 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
I have a long-time grudge against someone who shares my last name. David Blankenhorn (right).
The other Blankenhorn runs something called the Institute for American Values, a wingnut front group. He is best known as the author of Fatherless America, where he argues for the obligation of fathers to stay with their kids.
I may resent him because of what my dad did. He stayed. He had demons, but he stayed. He was abusive, and he was a hound, but he stayed. He was miserable, he made us miserable much of the time, but he stayed.
I had two fathers coming up. One was a drunk who hit me and only expressed his love through things. The other was a small businessman who charmed his customers and managed his people.
Among my siblings I was the fortunate one. I spent most of my time growing-up with this second man. I called him Fred. But he wasn't my dad. He was my boss. I filed, I stacked inventory, I went out on calls. It was a TV repair shop so I watched a ton of TV. My dad spent 66 hours a week at his shop, and what I learned was that if I didn't get away from it I'd die.
Many years later, through the eyes of my own kids, I learned some of what drove him through the eyes of my own children. By then my old family was gone, they were all 3,000 miles away, and I had to find my own answers.
What I most resent about "the other Blankenhorn" is his idea that you have to stay, because I felt my dad should not have stayed. How much better might his life had been, might my life had been, if instead of sucking it up we just had his money, and my mom had a chance to find someone more compatible?
What my dad taught me was that a miserable marriage is worse than none at all. This was the opposite of what I heard from the other Blankenhorn. His teachings ran counter to everything I had come to know.
Then I had my own kids, and I learned something important.